Exploring Scotland – Part IX: The Isle of Skye

Day 9 – 3rd August 2013

This morning we headed up the Trotternish (northeast) peninsula of Skye along the A855 towards Elishader. As the rain, wind and fog was approaching, the Old Man of Storr was not visible. One of these days, I’ll get to Skye on a sunny day (or at least less overcast) when I can actually see it as the last time I’d been on Skye (May 2006 was the last time). We stopped off at a viewing area in Lealt, near Kilt Rock, where a waterfall dropped heavily due to the increased rain flow. It was also very windy as we made our way over the slight path to take the photos. I had on this ‘waterproof’ camping poncho – not exactly the best thing to wear on the coast of Skye as the wind kept taking the edges and blowing it around like crazy – thus the rains that had started and coming at us somewhat sideways started the soaking of clothing.

Lealt Falls, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August, 2013

Lealt Falls, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August, 2013

From there, we moved up the road to the Mealt Falls at Creag an Fhèilídh (Kilt Rock) near Elishader. The falls come from the overflow from Loch Mealt and drops 55 metres (180ft) over the sea cliffs. I’ve been here before, but it is nonetheless spectacular, even in overcast conditions. The rain had stopped at this point though it was still windy. Along the viewing area along the cliff edge, there’s a steel fencing that surrounds the outcropping and the winds blowing through the steel creating lovely music. It was wonderful. At various times with the heavy winds, the spray from the waterfall blew sideways as it poured down the cliffs. Looking further up the coast nearby were the cliffs of Kilt Rock. The dolorite columns of the cliffs form pleats that resemble the pleats of a kilt, lending to its name. The Creag an Fhèilídh is one of thirteen sites of the Ceumannan – Staffin Ecomuseum – a museum without walls – all the sites are out in nature to explore.

For the adventurous, climbers can actually repel and climb the cliffs of Kilt Rock. I’ve never learned how to do rock climbing but this looks like something I’d be willing to learn to try someday.

Mealt Falls, Elishader, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd July 2013

Mealt Falls, Elishader, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd July 2013

Kilt Rock, Elishader, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Kilt Rock, Elishader, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

We moved further along the steep and sometimes hair-pin turn road to go visit the Cuith-Raing, or Quiraing, is on a landslip along the eastern side of Meall na Suiramach, northern-most summit of Trotternish Ridge. The geological theatre comprises several landmarks, of which only a few were actually visible due to the low-lying cloud and fog, and due to the heavy wind and rain, we weren’t actually out there long. That said, the views were beautifully dramatic.

The Cuith-Raing, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuith-Raing, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuith-Raing, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuith-Raing, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuith-Raing, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuith-Raing, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuith-Raing, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuith-Raing, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The next part of our trip took us to the Faerie Glen on the western side of the Trotternish peninsula, a little bit inland from Uig. I’d been here before as well, but it’s just absolutely stunning, even in the overcast setting. Though the last time I was here it was a fair bit less windy, so it made going to the top of the structure a little more tricky, and I ended up deciding not to do it this time – I’d been able to go up last time so there wasn’t as much of a goal to achieve, especially as the approach is really narrow…remember I said it was really windy? 🙂

When you get to the faerie glen, you’ll notice that the hills and valleys are smaller here than their highland counterparts. It’s a beautiful hike through the hills. And if you so wish, you can throw down a few shiny coins into the stone circles on the hills – the faeries like shiny coins – but don’t throw down anything else; trash left brings bad luck.

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Faerie Glen, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

When we left the Faerie Glen we headed west and briefly stopped off to see Dunvegan Castle – from a distance.

Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August, 2013

Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August, 2013

On our return to Portree, we passed by The MacLeod’s Table, two flat-topped hills, which we could scarcely see due to foggy conditions. We had a bit of a break so we returned back to Portree for some lunch, so a few of us went to the Portree Hotel’s dining room for some food then after I wandered around a few shops up on Bosville Terrace, picking up some more postcards, stamps and snack food. There were a few shops selling many different items of clothing – quite a bit of it with wool. They had these gorgeous Aaron knit sweaters which I would have loved to buy, but didn’t get for various reasons, but mainly because they were made of wool and as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t wear wool (unless I’ve got long sleeve turtleneck shirts on underneath). Also, my mum knits and has made me a couple of Aaron knit cable sweaters made with acrylic yarn, and thirdly, I was running out of space in my suitcase. However, I did find a nice waterproof jacket, which I did need – and folded up fairly small when not in use – on sale for £30, so I did get that – and put it right on as it had started to lightly rain again. I quickly made my way back to the bus terminal where our bus was parked and was taking us off on our afternoon adventure. Not everyone was coming along that afternoon though as some had been on Skye on the first leg of their tours the week before.

We continued for a drive in the afternoon up towards where our tour guide went through school and where he grew up. The scenery was quite beautiful. It was overcast and occasionally sprinkling with rain, then we popped into the Talisker Whiskey Distillery, where I picked up a couple of small bottles of Scotch to bring up to my father. And we happened upon a few scarecrows that were part of the Tattie Bogal Scarecrow Festival. The one below was one of my favourites.

Scarecrow, Tattie Bogle Scarecrow Festival, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 4th August, 2013

Scarecrow, Tattie Bogle Scarecrow Festival, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August, 2013

Talisker Whiskey Distillery, Carbost, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August, 2013

Talisker Whiskey Distillery, Carbost, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August, 2013

Loch Harport, Isle of Skye © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Loch Harport, Isle of Skye © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Grazing Sheep, Loch Harport, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Grazing Sheep, Loch Harport, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

We drove on a little longer through Dunvegan and down through and stopped off at the Sligachan Hotel and headed over to the Sligachan Bridge, with the river heavy with rain rushing through the arches. The nearby Cuillin mountains nearby provided a lovely backdrop. I wish it hadn’t started raining but there was some wonderful shots to be taken. According to legend, the Cuillin take their name from the Gaelic hero, Cúchulainn, although this is probably a folk etymology. Legend has it that Cúchulainn learned martial arts from the warrior woman, Scáthach, who was said to have a fighting school in Skye. She bested him in a fight and so after learning from her, he challenged her once more to a fight and won. (ref. Tour guide’s local knowledge, along with Wikipedia reference and– The Cuillin History & the Peak Names

Sligachan Bridge, Sligachan, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Sligachan Bridge, Sligachan, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Sligachan Bridge, Sligachan, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

Sligachan Bridge, Sligachan, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuillins, Sligachan, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

The Cuillins, Sligachan, Isle of Skye. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 3rd August 2013

We headed back up to Portree for the night. I stopped off at the hostel where they’d moved me into a four bed female dorm. I hung up my wet clothes and changed before heading up to The Co-operative Supermarket for a few things, then up to the Bosville Hotel restaurant for supper. Some of my tour mates had gone there the evening before and had recommended the place, so I decided to take them up on it and I’m glad I did – fantastic meal and dessert – and grateful for the time I went, as shortly after there was quite a queue for seating. I headed back to the hostel and relaxed for a while, got showered and dressed for bed before writing up some more postcards. I listened to a couple of BBC Radio4 podcasts before falling asleep.

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